lobster

Who You Calling Shrimp?

Shrimp belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, which means jointed leg and includes 75 percent of all animals. They aren’t all aquatic. Spiders, scorpions, centipedes and millipedes are arthropods that live on land. Shrimp are members not only of the Subphylum Crustacea — which includes crabs, lobsters, barnacles, amphipods and isopods — but also of the Class Malacostraca.   This article discusses three so-called “shrimp.” Only one of them, however, is a true shrimp. Here’s a hint: The “shrimp” are: a Hyperiid (Order Amphipoda), a California […]

Shell Games: The Curious Habits of Hermit Crabs

While riding an Amtrak train along the coast just south of Santa Barbara I had an epiphany. It was sparked by the neatly parked RVs on the two-lane road along the shore below the train tracks. Are you ready? Here it is: Hermit crabs are the RVers of the crab world. Of course, human RVers can live independently of their vehicles while hermit crabs require a sea shell home for protection because only their heads, part of their carapace and the first three pairs of […]

Soft Bodies, Sharp Teeth: California Moray Eels

While watching a documentary on freshwater eels, I was surprised to learn that European and American freshwater eels are born in the Sargasso Sea and migrate to the freshwater rivers, lakes and estuaries where they grow up. They return to the Sargasso Sea to spawn.  No one knows for sure where California morays spawn. Scientists believe SoCal waters are too cold for reproduction. And, since larvae have been taken all along the Baja coast and into the Gulf of California, those are likely the areas […]

Go Diving. Now.

Experienced California divers know that our diving changes with the seasons. In the winter we can experience squid “runs” and visits from California gray whales. In the spring numerous species including our iconic garibaldi strut their stuff in captivating courtship displays in an effort to win hearts and procreate. In summer the days grow longer and nutrient-rich waters fuel explosions of fish populations.  And then there is fall‚ a magical time of year in California. Weather and water conditions are often at their very best […]

Good, Better, Best

Few places on earth are as inviting as a California kelp forest in autumn. When diving conditions are favorable, as they so often are in the fall, we enjoy a wonderful opportunity to observe a diverse mix of as many as 800 species of marine creatures in an absolutely stunning setting. We have it all from playful herds of California sea lions to schools of silvery jackmackerel making their way through the forest maze to a dazzlingly colorful exhibition of rainbow colored nudibranchs on the […]

The Spice of the California Diving Experience

Mention California diving and the first thoughts of divers around the world are likely to be about our kelp forests. Their reaction is proof that just seeing a photograph of shimmering rays of sunlight dance through a golden undersea forest can get you hooked on California diving. And as so many California divers know, exploring a kelp forest in real life is a magical experience.   More than 800 species have been documented to inhabit a healthy forest of giant kelp. Those creatures include the […]

Giant Sea Bass: Are They Really Back From the Brink?

My first giant sea bass encounter occurred off San Nicolas Island in the 1970s. I sensed something overhead and looked up. A gigantic Goodyear blimp hovered over me.  A cartoon I‘d seen recently popped into my head. Two large fish were face to face. A scuba diver’s legs and fin-clad feet protruded from the puckered mouth of one wearing a sour expression. The other fish was saying, “I told you to peel them first.” I was a new diver and didn’t know if giant sea […]

Effective Underwater Modeling

You can be a good dive buddy in many ways, but there is nothing more precise than being the buddy of a photographer. It is essential that you plan your dive and know exactly your objective. Photographers are tricky beings and you need to stay out of their way when you need to, and help them create incredible photographs when they need you. Before we discuss anything, I want to remind you about buoyancy. Obviously, as a diver you will better enjoy any underwater activity […]

How to Photograph Moray Eels

Second only to sharks are our photos of sharp-fanged moray eels that most impress our non-diving friends on the “dangers” of the deep-sea realm. Of course, we know better but with the right techniques we can still capture these impressive creatures in all their various “moods” from “smiling” to a ferrous fanged grin. Various lighting techniques and camera angles will bring out the best in these funny guys. FINDING THEM The California moray eel is a temperate water creature only found from Santa Barbara southward, […]

One Less Angel. Who Cares?

On a recent lobster trip I was the only photographer onboard doing my duty as a reporter and editor for this publication. The rest of the boat were fervent lobster hunters. A few were spearfishing as well. Those who know me know I don’t have any problem with hunting so long as it is done legally and ethically. Although I have not shot a fish in years, I used to be an underwater hunter and, occasionally, still take lobster. On this particular dive I was […]

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